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Krugman: McCain's energy project is 'basically irrelevant'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday June 26, 2008

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Senator John McCain, who called last week for an end to the ban on offshore drilling, has since admitted that it would not provide any "immediate relief." However, he continues to insist that it would be a good idea because "the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial."

Keith Olberman turned for comment on McCain's energy proposals to economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Krugman began by dismissing McCain's grandly-named "Lexington Project" for energy independence as "sort of a collection of mice" and noted that offshore drilling "does nothing for the crisis we're in. ... It's trivial compared with things like energy conservation, alternative sources of energy. This was just to be able to say he was doing something -- which he hasn't, actually."

"I think McCain has bought into the notion that there's a kind of a panic," Krugman went on. "That speculators are buying up energy resources and that's what's driving up the price. ... The problem is that it's not right. ... He's got this idea that if we can just do something, even if it's basically irrelevant, it's somehow going to make a big difference in the current situation -- and this is not good policy."

Krugman said that for him "the stuff about McCain believing that speculators -- evil speculators -- are the problem is the most amazing thing about all this. It's not what you expect from a Republican -- except a Republican who's looking for something, anything to say."

"He wants to be saying something different, but he ends up sounding basically like Bush over again," Krugman concluded. "'If only you'd let me drill some more stuff ... forget about the environment.' ... Even politically, I think it's a bad idea. He's making himself sound more like the guy that most Americans would really like to see the end of."

Krugman also noted that even though neither candidate has a real answer to the energy crisis, there are definite differences between them. Obama is proposing to spend actual money -- $150 billion over ten years -- and McCain is not. On the other hand, "McCain is right to give Obama a hard time on ethanol. That's not Obama's finest moment. He was being a politician. ... Ethanol's a really bad idea."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast June 25, 2008.

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